Travel Risk Management Training for the Administrator: Maximizing Program Effectiveness

Author: Jacob Newton

In the first segment of our two-part Travel Risk Management (TRM) training series, we discussed techniques for organizations looking to establish a training program for their individual travelers, and why it’s so important.  Similarly, those overseeing travel risk management and duty of care initiatives for their organizations also have a responsibility to participate in training programs.  However, training for those managing the TRM program differs from the training necessary for the individual travelers because it focuses on core competencies to successfully manage the program as well as preparation for incident response.  This kind of training tends to fall into two categories with each serving a specific purpose, both of which will be discussed in this article.

Interdisciplinary Travel Risk Management
First, it’s important to establish who should be involved in this type of training because a comprehensive travel risk management program requires an interdisciplinary approach. Like many other risk management programs, travel risk also necessitates the involvement of multiple stakeholders of an organization to be successful. Often, organizations will establish a committee or team that oversees the TRM program. However, from a training perspective, there may be personnel that are not on the committee who should also be included in this training.  Depending on the organization, the committee may consist of leadership from Human Resources, Security, Travel Management, Risk Management and sometimes other units such as Safety (if separate from Security), Legal, and Operations.

While this core team may manage the day-to-day aspects of the travel risk management program, there may be individuals involved on a less frequent basis that could really benefit by being involved in the training. This may include but isn’t limited to, Communications and Public Relations, Finance and/or IT. This committee may have one or more personnel that overlap with other committees like a Crisis Management Team, which is completely acceptable. The ultimate objective is to develop and enhance core competencies for those regularly involved with the TRM program, as well as those that help support or maybe engaged should an incident occur.

Training Type #1: Core Competency
This training is designed to train people to be sufficient at the tasks expected of them in the TRM spectrum, which includes those competencies that help mitigate and prepare for travel risk. For example, this might include assessing hotels for personnel lodging, training demos for various TRM technologies, or even incident management planning concepts and how it relates to each stakeholder. For those on the committee, there will be common themes that everyone will be expected to perform, so it’s beneficial to have all members of the team present. Then, a different part of this training could focus on the competencies that apply to each individual stakeholder. The added benefit of the whole team participating for the entirety of this training is for those times when not all members are present to vacation, for example (another consideration is having an alternative point of contact for each committee member for when the primary person is absent). The key is competency and consistency by each member of the committee to create redundancies that avoid any single points of failure.

Competency training varies based on the organization and the traveler, but it doesn’t have to be a long and drawn-out process and could be executed as part of regularly-scheduled committee meetings. Regardless of what specific content is included, this training should focus on developing the core competencies each stakeholder on the committee is expected to uphold.

Training Type #2: Crisis Response Exercise (CRE)
When a TRM program is developed and comprised of a competent team, a Crisis Response Exercise (CRE) is a high-quality means of training to test the crisis response readiness of the team and TRM program at large. The best travel risk management programs conduct a CRE annually; however, exercising before the program is fully developed is only going to reveal gaps that are already known.  A CRE should include the committee members and alternate contacts mentioned above, but it’s also beneficial to include any vendors and consultants that are supporting the program.  For example, On Call regularly administers these types of exercises for clients—in general, including current service providers will help identify or clarify what actions they’re able to accommodate during an incident and how they tend to accomplish them.

A CRE can vary in length and scale depending on the maturity of the program, but the basics of the exercise will include progressive and more complex scenarios, like a medical issue that also involves an international legal concern or political protest that’s proximal to travelers. The design is to exercise current plans, policies and team members to validate quality components of the travel risk management program and identify areas needing attention. The powerful benefit of a CRE is to test the TRM program in a low-stress and safe environment before a real-life incident occurs.  Of course, any identified areas of weakness should be bolstered accordingly as soon as possible.  For many organizations, it’s no surprise that communication is what needs the most attention.  Conducting a CRE is a powerful mechanism to identify the strength of a program and potential opportunities for growth.

Those managing the travel risk management program have a large responsibility, tasked with ensuring the utmost safety and security of those traveling on behalf of an organization.  Establishing interdisciplinary involvement in the program and providing the discussed training will develop the competencies needed to effectively manage the program and prepare to support those traveling around the world when it’s needed. Want to learn more about implementing traveler training and preparation at your organization? Contact us today.

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